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Eating in Color: A Vision of Healthiness

Eating in Color: A Vision of Healthiness

If you can remember back to your school days, the art class introduced you to the color wheel. You started with primary colors of red, blue, and yellow, and when mixing variations of these together you would produce secondary colors like green, orange, purple, and so on. The color wheel isn’t just a unique way to understand art and the world of beauty. There is color in just about everything around, and when it comes to your diet and living healthy, the color wheel should be a source of inspiration for your snacks and meal plans.

Crippling Traditions and Habits

The average American consumes half of their daily recommended calories in one trip to a fast-food drive-thru. Not only is the meal pushing the bounds on the recommended intake of sodium, it potentially covered in grease, loaded with carbohydrates, and downed with 16 ounces of nothing but sugar. The convenience of the meal opportunity makes it attractive, but after a lifestyle of instant food consumption, the effect on the waistline isn’t so attractive. More unfortunate are the eating habits and lifestyle traditions that are being instilled in the younger generation. On average, Americans of all sizes and ages don’t eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This is leading to continued ignorance of the benefits and tastiness of the colorful foods available for our enjoyment. As some chefs and nutritionists tend to think, veggies and fruits are often prepared in appealing and creative ways that highlight their beauty and flavors, perhaps leading to their exclusion during most meals.

Dieting Support for Color

Unlike many countries that rely on things grown from the land for their primary dietary supplements, the American population turns more willingly to natural and organic foods when their dieting protocol requires them too. There is no doubt that the major weight loss plans put increased attention on eating healthy, and this usually includes highlighting the importance of upping the intake of fruits and vegetables over-processed foods. The HCG diet is composed of very limited calorie consumption and puts the bulk of the daily diet with vegetables and a few of the least glycemic fruits. This requirement helps keep an individual on track with healthy eating. If there is no diet in place, then taking a proactive approach to eating the color wheel might be the incentive you need to eat better.

Taste the Rainbow

The Skittles candy commercial is all about encouraging people to taste the rainbow, but for the sake of your health, please don’t fill up on candy and sugar. A better culinary rainbow experience is to add colorful foods to your place. The American diet is typically pale in color, with the popular beige and blah foods doing little to create eating excitement. While one of the pushes to include color is to generate interest and appetite, the phytochemicals necessary to support immune health, defend against DNA damage, protect from toxic carcinogens, and regulate the hormones are found naturally in produce. However, not all fruits and vegetables will contain the same amount of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. This is why eating a variety is so important. If you rotate your inclusion of fruits and vegetables, choosing three different colors for your plate, you can still have great flavor and strong nutritional support. Here are three color families, their benefits, and what are commonly included in them.


This color family helps to improve circulation, which in turn helps lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease. It also supports joint health, protects against certain forms of cancers, and can help lower bad cholesterol. This category is often full of antioxidants, folate, and lycopene. Produce options include cherries, peppers, tomatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, grapefruit, beets, or radicchio.


This is the most common color in the produce world, and it protects immune and heart health. It can help regulate glucose levels, and often provides a daily dose of Vitamins A, C, E, as well as zinc, iron, and some calcium. These foods can be used at all meals, and include kale, lettuces, spinach, cucumber, broccoli, zucchini, limes, peas, celery, kiwis, leeks, green apples, herbs, and green grapes.


The darker the color, the richer it will be in antioxidants. The blue/purple category have foods that contain flavonoids, which helps regulate an individual’s blood pressure. They also contain resveratrol, an agent that helps with artery health and improves circulation. Including in this group can help fight against cancers, support liver functions, and reduce ulcers. Foods include plums, blackberries, blueberries, eggplant, cabbage, grapes, purple asparagus, purple peppers, elderberries, or olives.


Take advantage of seasonal produce whenever you can, as this is one way you can afford to eat the color wheel. The other benefit will be an improvement in your health.



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About the author

Dr. Richard Smith, MD

4 min read